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SitePoint Web Blog:
How Do You Work With Other People's Code?
September 26, 2014 @ 10:58:56

The SitePoint Web blog has a recent post from Matthew Setter offering some helpful hints on working with other people's code. In it he shares suggestions ranging from the technical out to a bit more "learning oriented" to get up to speed on concepts and techniques.

Dealing with code created by other people is a fundamental skill for a developer. Give it a year and other people's code could even be your own. Today I'm going to look at some of the best approaches for how to deal with other people's code, read legacy code, effectively. It's not an easy topic to cover.

He's broken it down into a list of several different topics, each with their own descriptions and links to tools or reading resources for more information:

  • Interact
  • Observe
  • Run Tests
  • Fix Bugs designed for Newcomers
  • Find Available Resources
  • Use a Good IDE
  • Read Books & Blogs
  • Contribute to Documentation
  • Be Considerate

He puts some good emphasis on that final point, reminding the reader that it's not just years of experience that make for a better developer, it's more about skill.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/work-peoples-code/

Matt Frost:
Getting Talks Selected
January 27, 2014 @ 09:04:23

If you're considering getting into the world of speaking at an upcoming PHP conference, Matt Frost has some advice for you to help you get started. It can be intimidating, so learn from some of his own experiences as a relatively new speaker in the community.

It's a very busy conference season in and around the PHP Community. [...] These conferences are such a blessing to those who are able to attend, the speakers know their stuff and are very open to sharing and talking outside of their sessions. But you're a smart cookie too! You've got ideas and thoughts and knowledge that other people would like to have, so how do you get in on this? I'm going to tell you how I got into it, your mileage may vary, but hopefully it helps.

He points out that submitting a talk and getting accepted is "a lot like the lotto" sometimes, that you can't win unless you buy a ticket (submit that talk). He looks at a few of the other common questions from beginning speakers - what do I talk about, how do I write an abstract and common first time speaking concerns.

There's no magical elixir that will land you speaking gigs at cool conferences. Everyone that speaks, from the seasoned pro to the up and comer, has worked extremely hard to not only put the talks together; but acquire all the knowledge necessary to give the talk in the first place
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Link: http://shortwhitebaldguy.com/blog/2014/01/getting-talks-selected

7PHP.com:
PHP Interview With Maarten Balliauw Technical Evangelist at JetBrains
September 16, 2013 @ 11:19:35

On 7PHP.com today they've posted the latest in their series of community interviews, this time with Maarten Balliauw, a technical evangelist with JetBrains, maker of the popular PHP IDE PHPStorm.

In this edition I talk with Maarten Balliauw who is the technical evangelist at Jetbrains (the php ide PHPStorm is one its product you can recall). @maartenballiauw is of those few programmers who is indulged closely with both PHP and .NET worlds - meaning this interview will also have questions on both worlds. I now invite you to learn from his experience and get to know his personality.

They talk some about Maarten's background in PHP, some of the "good" and "bad" he sees in the language and some of the tools he uses daily to get his development done. There's also some suggestions of resources, tools and frameworks he finds useful. There's also a big chunk of the interview dedicated to his current work with JetBrains and some of his previous work with Microsoft and related technologies.

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Link: http://7php.com/php-interview-maarten-balliauw

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Technical Debt
September 09, 2013 @ 09:13:41

On SitePoint.com's PHP blog today there's a recent post looking at technical debt - what it is, how to locate it and how to help mitigate (and prevent) it in the future.

On the one hand, technical debt refers to the quick and dirty shortcuts we take and the effect they have on future development. On the other hand, technical debt is also about the things that we don't do, such as not commenting our code, not developing documentation, not doing proper testing, etc.

They're looking at things from more of a financial standpoint than a development view, but some things are similar between them. Having some technical debt is almost unavoidable, but having a lot is a bad thing. They discuss how it relates to the quality of the product/codebase and three strategies for dealing with debt:

  • Don't ignore it
  • Triage it correctly and realistically
  • Impose a debt ceiling and schedule regular time to work on it
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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/technical-debt/

Dzone.com:
Diving into Behat
April 09, 2013 @ 09:50:34

Giorgio Sironi has a new post to DZone.com today about some of his experiences with Behat, a behavior-driven development testing tool written in PHP. It uses the Gherkin language syntax to define its tests.

I had the occasion to try out and adopt Behat for a particular need in our projects at Onebip. Here is my recount of the experience from a PHPUnit contributor and invested person.

He starts off with a list of situations where he doesn't think that Behat is a good fit for testing including testing of a single object and acceptance tests where comparing the response from more than one test is needed. He suggests that it's more useful for verifying high level business rules than anything. He talks some about the shift they made to using Behat and some of the benefits they found in its use. He finishes up the post by looking at the technical side and includes a warning about letting the size of the FeatureContext file get too large.

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Link: http://css.dzone.com/articles/diving-behat

Pádraic Brady:
PHP Security, Authorative Knowledge and Combining Forces
September 04, 2012 @ 14:55:38

In this new post to his blog Pádraic Brady has proposed a "combining of forces" in the PHP community centered around promoting best practices in the security of PHP applications.

Once you start to dig around PHP Security in earnest, you begin to notice trends and patterns in how programmers behave and accumulate knowledge. The most obvious feature of PHP culture is that we do not have an active "leadership" in security. There is no appeal to authority in PHP security debates, only personal opinions informed by a nebulous entity called "They". There are individuals that I have learned to trust and that's about as far as we can go. [...] In the PHP community, the Authorative Knowedge for PHP Security is derived from a concensus. A concensus based on published articles, the practices of libraries and frameworks, printed books, and the vague meandering thoughts of whoever you follow on Twitter. In other words, our current Authorative Knowledge is you.

He notes that this "everyman security expert" hasn't proven to be the best method for increasing the overall security awareness of PHP developers, so he's proposing something different: the "PHP Security Technical Group (SECTG)".

It's a group of members who share a common interest in sharing information, performing research, publishing articles/newsletters, and generally taking advantage of resource pooling without giving up their individual interests - all towards accomplishing some common goal, i.e. creating or emphasising new Authorative Knowledge. The phrase "Unofficial" is implicit in the group name - this is not an official PHP entity.

If you're interesting in joining in on the cause, you can sign up for the mailing list and get more information as it comes.

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PHPMaster.com:
6 Extra Skills Every PHP Developer Should Have
April 09, 2012 @ 08:22:01

On PHPMaster.com today there's a new article with six things that they (well, Daniela Baker) thinks every independent PHP developer should know and have in their arsenal.

PHP development is hot right now, but there are also lots of people in PHP development. If you want to make it as an independent PHP developer you've got to know more than just PHP. Here are six other essential skills you need to succeed as a PHP developer.

Her list of six is made up of:

  • JavaScript, HTML, and CSS
  • Knowing What You Don't Know
  • Business Communication
  • Business Finance
  • Project Management
  • Networking

Really, independent or not, these types of skills/knowledge can help any developer out there to see the bigger picture outside of just their code, out to what the business is doing.

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Anthony Ferrara's Blog:
The Power of Technical Debt
March 29, 2012 @ 14:49:23

Anthony Ferrara has written up a great post on technical debt, relating it to terms that might be a bit more "real world" for many out there - corresponding financial problems.

Lately, I've found myself in a number of discussions about Technical Debt and how it applies to project development. Overall, I think it's a very powerful tool that -- when used wisely -- can be a great asset to any team. It seems to me that most of the people that I've been talking to really don't agree, and see Technical Debt as a plague that should be eliminated at first sight. So, I figured I'd share my opinions, and see what you think...

He talks about a few different kinds of technical debt described by the names of their financial counterparts:

  • the Payday Loan (a current concession for the sake of time)
  • a Mortgage (making small parts, payments, of a whole without consideration of the overall picture)
  • a Credit Card (not knowing the need causes a sub-optimal solution)
  • Hidden Debit (an unclear understanding of the full scope of the debt)

He also touches on two other topics - how to find and get rid of the Hidden Debt your project might have and a common misconception that technical debt doesn't exist in an aglie world.

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PHPMaster.com:
Documentation Makes the World Go Round
October 04, 2011 @ 09:03:16

On PHPMaster.com today there's a new article emphasizing something that lots of developers forget to make a part of their process when writing code - creating useful documentation to help make your code that much clearer.

If you're writing code that will be shared with others, put yourself in their shoes. Don't let your project lose potential users, community members, and possible contributors all because of insufficient documentation.

He (Matthew Turland) suggests a few things to keep in mind as you're writing up your documentation - the content is "king" (an emphasis on good descriptions/examples/use cases), open it up to external contributions using things like wikis (or even stored in the source code repository) and a focus on technical writing skills. Even the best tools out there can suffer if there's poor or no documentation.

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Ibuildings techPortal:
DPCRadio Technical Writing
April 29, 2011 @ 08:56:26

On the Ibuildings techPortal they've posted a new episode of their recordings from the Dutch PHP Conference 2010, DPCRadio - a recording of Elizabeth Naramore's session Technical Writing.

If you've had an idea for writing a blog post or article, but you're not sure where to start, this talk is for you! Maybe you've had difficulty effectively documenting your code, or communicating your ideas to non-techies. This talk will help you, too! In this fun and informative session, we'll discuss the basics of writing and clear communication through the written word. We'll also talk about strategies for keeping your writing interesting and informative at the same time. Finally, we'll discuss resources for improving your writing skills in the future.

You can either use the in-page player to listen or you can download the mp3 to listen wherever you'd like.

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